U.S. Military Helicopter Crashes in Iraq, Killing 14

Fourteen U.S. soldiers died when the helicopter they were flying in crashed in northern Iraq.

Two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were on a night operation when one of the aircraft went down early today, the military said in an e-mailed statement. The helicopter had been carrying four crewmembers and 10 passengers from Task Force Lightning.

“Initial indications are that the aircraft experienced a mechanical malfunction. There were no indications of hostile fire,” the military said in the statement. “The cause of the incident is under investigation.”

U.S.-led coalition forces fly thousands of logistical support, personnel movement and offensive-operations helicopter missions every month in Iraq. Three U.S. military helicopters and another belonging to an American security company crashed or were shot down in less than two weeks in January and February.

The deadliest American helicopter crash in Iraq killed 30 U.S. Marines and a sailor on Jan. 26, 2005.

At least 92 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq this month. Task Force Lightning units operate in Iraq’s north, an area that includes insurgent flashpoints Tikrit, Kirkuk, Samarra and Mosul.

Some 3,705 U.S. personnel had died in Iraq as of yesterday, of whom 3,046 were killed in action. More than 27,500 have been wounded, 12,340 of them so seriously that they couldn’t return to duty, according to the Department of Defense Web site.